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How Queen broke the mould with 'I Want to Break Free'

How Queen broke the mould with 'I Want to Break Free'

How Queen broke the mould with 'I Want to Break Free'

Looking back at the history of cinema, television and popular culture, it's surprising just how many examples there are of memorable scenes involving cleaning.

From Mary Poppins' efficient tidy-up of the Banks children's nursery while singing 'A Spoonful of Sugar', to Mrs Doubtfire's similarly musical vacuuming scene, there are numerous instances of cleaning being turned into something quite unique.

Over the next few months on the Aurora blog, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of these scenes and what makes them so special. We'll start with one of the most celebrated music promos a British band has ever produced - Queen's video for their 1984 hit single, 'I Want to Break Free'.

Flamboyant and unforgettable

The concept for the video was inspired by Coronation Street, with each member of the band - Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon - dressed up to resemble one of the long-running soap's female characters.

There is an instant connection to the classic ITV show, with the video opening on a shot of rows upon rows of terraced houses. We then move into a typical suburban house and the first member of the band we see is Brian May, emerging reluctantly out of bed with curlers in his hair and wearing a pink nightdress, pink socks and bunny slippers.

We then get our first sight of the band's flamboyant frontman, in what would become a truly iconic image. Mercury sashays into the living room, vacuum cleaner in hand, dressed in a pink top, a black miniskirt, tights and a black wig. Most hilariously of all, his famous black moustache remains in place.

We are also treated to the sight of Deacon in a black cloak, grey wig and hat, resembling Coronation Street's Ena Sharples, and Taylor in a typical schoolgirl outfit, complete with blonde wig and a straw hat.

Mercury then launches into the song, locking eyes with the camera and singing (in that instantly recognisable voice of his) the opening line: "I want to break free!"

It's not long before the video transports us out of this mundane domestic setting, with Mercury flinging open a cupboard door to reveal a dark, otherworldly scene, where the band members are surrounded by a crowd of headlamp-wearing coal miners.

For the third verse, we are taken to an even more bizarre scene, where the singer and a group of dancers are dressed in skin tight spotty leotards. Mercury plays a pipe, munches grapes and is held aloft by the dancers, surrounded by dry ice.

This surreal fantasy abruptly ends and we find ourselves back in the house, with the band's frontman turning to the camera and singing: "But life still goes on." He struts through the living room, dusting nonchalantly as he goes, before we get a few more shots of the band surrounded by the miners.

A cultural icon
Taylor has said this particular video was an effort to move away from some of the material the band had created previously.

"We had done some really serious, epic videos in the past, and we just thought we'd have some fun," he said. "We wanted people to know that we didn't take ourselves too seriously, that we could still laugh at ourselves. I think we proved that."

In the years since, both the song and the video have become much-loved cultural artefacts, with the image of Mercury in his ludicrous attire achieving iconic status.

Here at Aurora, we can guarantee that our cleaners will get your workplace into shape with total professionalism and efficiency, with no leather miniskirts or bright pink earrings in sight. We'll leave that to Freddie.

 

Posted by Julie Tucker